Skip to main content
6:00 pm
>> hello, and llewellyn king, host of "white house chronicle." it is coming right up. first, a few thoughts of my own. i'm a party animal -- whether these two things in common? it is here in washington we tend to be a horizontal place. we know all of the people who do what we do -- journalist no journalists, lawyers no lawyers, bureaucrats know bureaucrats but very seldom vertical. is there any mixing of these?
6:01 pm
in new york -- or doubling or any other cities, it is more vertical. when i go to a party easily i know the people, they are involved in politics and journalism. if i go to a party in new york, someone may be a stage hand, someone a nurse, someone from wall street. it is vertical. a different kind of social structure. is this important? in one way because of the horizontal, this defect, causes us to talk to each other and to build up our own opinions by like mindedness. i have found some of the most interesting places in the world to go to a party is dublin because people are enormously well read and you can talk to anybody about anything. i remember one party where we were discussing books and the person with the most opinions and one of the best read it persons was a bus driver. vertical integration. the party was thrown by
6:02 pm
journalists, which is not unreonable. but here we are in stratified, each one in their place, each one talking to other people just like ourselves. when it happened in detroit, it was called grosse point syndrome. a car company executives all knew the other executives, the kids wanted the same schools and barbeques and day designed the same wrong cars. get out, get vertical. there is virtue in it. i'm going to be talking today with an extraordinarily gifted writer, steven hill, who has written a book that might be controversial but which i certainly welcome, it is called "europe's promise." it is about the future of europe. a very generalist's look at the future of europe in the world, its influence, and just as a place of growing and already of extreme livability. we will be back with steven hill after the titles.
6:03 pm
>> "white house chronicle" is produced in collaboration with whut, howard university television. now, your program host, nationally syndicated columnist llewellyn king, and co-host linda gasparello. captioned by the natial captioning institute >> hello, again. thank you for coming along. i am very glad to welcome to this table steven hill. >> blooded to be here. >> nice to have you. the book is "europe's promise." it is a substantial piece of work, and norris but noting. if i might say so, not off the top of your head. clearly you must not be a journalist. >> well, it was the result of 10 years of research and travel back and forth to europe, a lot of interviews. not only the leaders but people in the street. >> what do you do when you are not writing books? >> i direct the political reform
6:04 pm
program for the new american foundation, a nonpartisan think tank. >> you seem generally to be left wing, correct, or left of center? >> in know, started off calling itself radical centralism, whatever that is, and still tries to bring the best of mouth -- both left and right together. >> what set you off to take a new look at europe or a positive look at europe? in the last, especially in the bush administration, europe was pretty denigrated by people in government and some commentators. >> i started traveling to europe initially to research political institutions and political systems and the differences between europe and the united states. in fact, many of the country's use proportional representation, public financing of campaigns. >> we might back up and explain proportional representation. it is not well understood in america at all. >> it is not. the quickest explanation is it
6:05 pm
produces multi-party democracy. >> some time to many parties like in italy -- not in ireland, that is proportional, but it actually has three. >> you can fine-tune your democracy by setting what you call a victory threshold. how many parties. in the unites the states with a system that is democrat or republican in many districts and most districts are so non- competitive we can tell you who will wind. >> in short hand, first past the post. >> winner-take-all. >> it has worked very well in the uk. periodically the labour party says it will go to proportional representation and then they realized they may lose some of the viability and backs off it. there are a lot of use of europe and america that it is old, that it is bureaucratic beyond belief, that it is overtaxed,
6:06 pm
that people don't work hard enough, that it is not competitive, that for its defense it relies on us and that it is just as far down the track of having it manufacturing center china as anywherelse. how do you respond to some of those? >> that was the interesting thing. as a start learning more about your i found that these were pretty much mips. not a lot of truth. the idea that the economy was weak and sick, some of the adjectives thrown out. for example, europe has the largest economy in the world, produces one-third of the world's economy. it is actually larger than the united states and china combined. it has more fortune 500 companies than united states and china combined. in a land we used to call high unemployment now has lower than the united states. >> that there is country to country, doesn't it? >> in the eu, it is 9.5% right now. >> but it is not the same in greece that it is in -- >> but the same in the united
6:07 pm
states, not the same in california and massachusetts. for example, europe has more small businesses than the united statesnd produce two-thirds of the jobs in europe and in the united states, only half. >> the peculiar strength of italy in that it has so many small businesses, some of which don't know there is a recession. >> germany, too. and france has a lot of small businesses. even though you hear about red tape and france, a lot of small businesses. some of the other myths i found, you hear about the welfare state. europeans have health care, low- cost university education and more generous retirement, paid parental leave and sick leave. that is called the welfare state but what i found it exactly what i call a workfare state. what it is is giving support to families and individuals so they have what they need to be healthy and productive.
6:08 pm
a fine distinction but it is an important one because especially in this age of globalized capitalism, as it is called, a lot of economic insecurity, there is a real question of how does this society provide support for families and workers as jobs are being moved around the globe? i think europe really has found something that is quite interesting and americans should look more closely at and get past the myths. >> have you lived on the european economy yourself? >> i have been back and forth. the longest day at any one time was about a month. >> i find your is very user- friendly. a very pleasant. life at the street level. a lot available. it is more difficult to do business. i had an office in london for a while for an american company i was and what -- involved with,
6:09 pm
and of little publishing -- the bureaucracy is pretty horrendous. the liberty to move. and the great difficulty, of course, is employing people because once you employ them you cannot just let them go. the american concept of you serve at will is not there. on the other hand, the quality of life in the time i have been in the u.s. from 1963, which is a long time, the quality of life there has improved and i am not sure ours has. it has changed, but has n necessarily improve. traffic is worse, public facilities fewer and farther between, hard to find a toilet. >> just looking at some statistics. americans have 14% of people who are in poverty, 37 or 30 million people, compared to france, 6%, britain, 8%, germany and sweden at 5% or less. america performs far worse than just about all the countries in europe. what i found is that there is a word you use in europe a lot, related to what you talk about, having a business, bureaucracy, but it is called consultation.
6:10 pm
there is a value in europe that workers should be consulted with by those that run the businesses. fort -- in germany you have something called co- derminations. so the major corporations, like bmw, mercedes, siemens -- they have a board of directors, like american corporations, but 50% of members of the board of directors are elected by the workers. in sweden, one-third are. most countries in europe are doing those kinds of consultations. imagine if wal-mart, for example, had to allow workers to elect 50% of the directors. how would that change wal-mart? i think fairly dramatic ways. there are really interesting things going on in europe as they tried to grapple with how to keep their economies competitive -- which they are -- like said, more fortune 500 companies that even the united states, but also making sure that the families and workers have the support they need. >> one of the ways of measuring
6:11 pm
activity in the country is to measure the patents. america is still way ahead at a new inventions. still dominate the world. but i have always thought of europe has been very inventive. i can see it in the theater, i can see it in music, i can see it certainly in television. why aren't they doing better in the patent race? >> in this globalized world, i am not sure that is all that important today. any country can take the patents from any other country and use them. they do. >> but that doesn't answer the question, though. what is it about the structure of european life, reckitt live it -- recognizing there is a lot of intellectual ability -- that makes it not quite as competitive in that arena with the u.s.? >> again, europe is the one that is implementing all the renewable technologies -- solar, wind power, seapower, high-speed
6:12 pm
trains. europe is a place of high-tech industry. >> let's talk about the trains. the trains are quite stunning. largely french. that spread all over europe but they were french. they do over 200 miles an hour now. they did it by taking the rails outside of the city's -- cities. we tried the fix -- to fix the rails from the 19th century secant do it, you can have a train that's been through this city. they were very imaginative and it decided collectively a long time ago that's -- inter-country transportation in europe is by train. you can go to brussels to london in 2 hours and 15 minutes, paris just about the same time, a little longer. that is amazing. you cannot drive to an airport
6:13 pm
and airplane and go through security and then be in the wrong place. what was driving that? what sort of vision? why didn't we have that vision here? or what were the impediments to that vision here? >> i think in europe was driving it, there were looking for ways in decades to further bind europe together. i think it goes back to, and the aftermath of world war ii when they were trying to find -- people liked -- considered the father is a model year. >> i would say schumangen not sure churchill was in there. >> he was still talk about united states of europe. >> but he was still dreaming of churchill -- british empire and lasting 1000 years. >> but there were leaders looking for ways to bind europe together and create the blow that would prevent the horrors of world war i warii from happening again.
6:14 pm
many other ways, including shared resources, coal and steel between germany and france. in the united states, you can read a lot of interesting history about how trains or undermined by auto companies. at the auto companies had an agenda of wanting every american of -- to have a car and not to use trains so they went about trying to undermine trains. i think it is also the fact that in the united states we are not as densely populated as europe, so you have places out in the west, for example, or maybe it would not have made as much sense to have trains because populations and it's not quite there. but now that are getting there and california is trying to get high-speed train. but it is hugely expensive now and then having a hard time finding the money. >> the technology on the european trains is fascinating. first of all, rather than traditionally a train having this connection between cars, the whole car is a hinge. i happen to like trains.
6:15 pm
>> i love trains. but you have more room, plug the laptop. >> on this very issue -- for the benefit of our issues on sirius xm satellite radio, i'm talking to steven hill from the new america foundation about his intriguing book, "europe's promise," which suggests strongly and as the rebel documented sending your is not the basket case someone to believe it is -- documenting that europe is not the basket case some like to believe it is. what is the future of europe globally, its role in other countries? we had a very sad situation going back to clinton, the days of president clinton, with the europeans could not get back together over cause of all. i myself went to london -- together over kosovo. i went to a meeting in london
6:16 pm
french deputy's thinking clinton for taking the lead -- a french deputy banking an american president because europe could not get its act together over intervention into kosovo to ameliorate the aggressiveness. then i think europe is a different place today. the early 1990's, the maastricht treaty was just passed so europe was still information. europe as we know today has only been in existence really since 2004. that is when the final 27 nations of the eu were added from eastern and central europe. europe is a young nation. it is a old young nation, ironically. both these individual member countries as well as the european union on top of it -- the european union is a body that really hasn't existed in probably human invention before. >> why do you think it is that the europeans collectively, all
6:17 pm
of these countries -- let's say, 30 countries for argument's sake -- have paid more attention to the quality of life at the street level that we have? what the economist called the public squalor and private affluence? you walk through london and are great things to look at, a lot of transportation, and new things like the london eye and wobbly bridge, paris, eiffel tower and lots of transportation and great many places to eat and you can ride on the seine. we hardly touch our own great river here, the potomac, not very far from the studio. how did it happen that we went for the private affluence and a public squalor with the public neglect? there are no public toilets to speak of. two in washington run by the parks service and you would not want to use them. >> europe used to be kind of
6:18 pm
more like how we are -- up until the destruction of world war ii and before that, what were i, yet countries themselves becoming democracies and have been war machines. europe fought wars for centuries. it seems that the destruction of world war i and ii -- you read comments from the leaders that time saying we have to find a different way. that is when europe started taking all the money they used to plow into the military machine and began to plow into the more social capitalism, as i call it, finding some way to harness the ability of capitalism to create wealth. that is really what you're figgered out how to do. capitalism creates a lot of wealth. the question is, what do you do with that wealth? europe figured out a way to harness this to create a more broadly shared prosperity. the essence of modern-day europe. >> why is it almost universally
6:19 pm
believed -- here's the book, "europe's promise." there we are, beautiful. by steven hill. white is it you think we have not developed the same thank you is it you think we have not developed the same -- why is it you think we ha not developed the same collective ethic? we have become more individualistic. it is the individual. do you know why that enormous difference in social attitudes can about? >> i tnk there are historical reasons. some goes back to the formation of america where you had people fleeing for religious freedom and also for property freedom. in their minds became their refuse. puritans, if you were to talk to it. and toda for example, they will tell you that my right to worship is my own and no one can tell me different and the right to my property is my own. that attitude became
6:20 pm
incorporated into the declaration of independence and the founding documents. the founding generation of this country sort of the embrace the values much more so than europeans. there was no sense of the common weal in that philosophy. in many ways america still reflects that. in many ways also in the post- world war ii period, that attitude seemed to have worked for america up until very recently. you know, the history of franklin delano roosevelt and the new deal was sort of starting to create more social capital and wealth, but then along came the reagan revolution and the 1980's were a sudden there was the reassertion of the idea that it is about the individual again and be regulating government and getting government out of the way of business. now that the loss of a has crashed and burned, getting government out of the way of business led to the biggest economic collapse since the great depression. influx in these points. >> to what extent do you think
6:21 pm
europe trades off this public dimension -- modest housing, etc.. my friends who live either in brussels or london or germany tend to live and quite modest houses and tend to have the quite pleasant out of the house life, maybe superior to that out of the house life in america. is that part of the same thing? >> yes, i think so. in europe you also have smaller cars, things tend to be smaller, eight smaller wheels. in america things seem to be large. it seems to be how americans as individuals have filled up, the psyche is by acquiring things and in europe and there is more of a social sharing -- grand plazas in europe where people go out and walk and see each other outside and the cafes where they are out having coffee and beer, just much more the culture for doing those sorts of things. >> an observation. immigrants from europe to
6:22 pm
america i have found -- obviously very subjective, not scientific -- the women tend to be happier in america and the men sort of dream about the pubs and the cafes and a football -- soccer. and the women just love the american quality of life. have you encountered that in your research? >> no, i can't say i have -- >> you will have to go back and research more, will you? then i have found a mix more. some like it, some are critical of it. it seemed americans as was all because our cars are bigger and engines are bigger and we use so much more energy. >> that is changing. one of the constant concerns about the future of europe is the immigration of muslims from north africa, especially, but also the subcontinent, particularly to england.
6:23 pm
how much is that changing and will they remain a part of this european ideal of integration or will they be separate within each part of the country? if you walk through brussels, paris, you get into these muslim areas where you are not very welcome and the language being spoken there is mostly arabic. it is quite disturbing -- you think you are in a european country and that part of it, those few acres are clearly not a part of that country that you thought you were in. >> this is clearly one of the great challenges of europe. although i think it is somewhat -- it is right that people are concerned but if you went back to the history of the united states and you went into a ghetto of italians or poles who immigrated there you would hear just their language. this is the immigrant experience no matter what country. it is simply the case that every
6:24 pm
country has its minorities. >> but isn't it more severe when you have a religion and language entwines? >> of the irish in the polls, they were catholics. john kennedy when he ran for president, some people held against him because he talked about his religion. he was the first irish catholic to really try to talk about that and not hide that. here are some things i found instructed in understanding this. the percentage of muslims in europe is 3% -- some countries higher, some lower. >> about 10% in france, i believe. >> higher in france but there are more immigrants from portugal in france then from muslim countries, for example. most of the muslims who come to france, they are there for the better life. there are not there to create jihad and a lot of fun of their own way to integrate in french and european society.
6:25 pm
but it takes time. it is not something that happens overnight. certainly france has had problems integrating. only recently have they really begun taking it seriously. i think because, again, the numbers became high and off among the minorities bear and the religious and ethnic minorities. but i agree -- there was one french and a list is the problem in france is more marx than mohammed. it is more about immigrants. for example, when you had the french use that rioted. they were not immigrant youth. they come from third-generation -- >> but this has been a lot of problem wi jihadists coming from third generation. in the u.k. -- muslim murders, kind of borrowed from the marching tradition in northern ireland -- muslim martyrs.
6:26 pm
it is kind of disturbing for us to live in england. traditionally a, dennis country. >> in ireland you had the irish and the catholics and protestants also. always been there is religious strife there is always a economic component. the more they integrate muslims in france and other places economically the more the differences -- >> to conclude, as elected this paragraph with -- which is highlighted here that i would like you to read aloud, please. >> make no mistake about it, when it comes to finding solutions to the 21st century problems that plague our world, economic insecurity, global climate change, health care, political disenfranchisement, geopolitical posturing, the divide between rich and poor -- europe is the brightest deking -- began penetrating the storm. in short, europe is the new city of the hill. that is a conclusion i came to because the world is facing the challenges. >> i am not sure you are wrong. i doubt that there is a simple
6:27 pm
fix and there areirtues in both sides. at the mobility of labor is a huge american virtue that is not as real in europe. and i'm always reminded when americans attack europe we are of them. even this language. it has been nothing but a pleasure talking to you -- >> thank you so much. >> we will be back santana next week. and you can catch up with some of our writing and thinking at and we will continue these discussions and i hope steven will come back. until then, cheers.
6:28 pm
>> "white house chronicle" is produced in collaboration with whut, howard university television. from washington, d.c., this has been "white house chronicle," a weekly analysis of the news with a sense of humor featuring llewellyn king, linda gasparello, and guests. this program can be seen on pbs stations and cable access channels. to view the program online, visit us at
6:29 pm

White House Chronicles
WHUT January 29, 2010 6:00pm-6:30pm EST

News/Business. Wisdom and wit from leaders.

TOPIC FREQUENCY France 11, United States 9, London 7, Europe 4, Germany 3, Washington 3, China 3, Steven 3, Paris 3, Linda Gasparello 2, Steven Hill 2, Llewellyn King 2, Ireland 2, New York 2, California 2, U.s. 2, England 2, Us 2, Italy 2, Clinton 1
Network WHUT
Duration 00:30:00
Video Codec mpeg2video
Audio Cocec ac3
Pixel width 528
Pixel height 480
Sponsor Internet Archive
Audio/Visual sound, color